By Cynthia Simmons

“Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary” ( Psalm 96:6).

I grow cattellya orchids indoors, and I love to watch the fragile buds swell until they pop so the delicate petals can unfurl a little at a time. Breathtaking!

I feel as if I am seeing the hand of God at work. The frilly lip is the last to open, and then a light fragrance tinges the air. The sweet aroma lasts during the day until the flower starts to fade.

My favorite orchid produces a spray of five or six blue-lavender flowers, each the size of a silver dollar. I have a larger plant that bears blooms about four inches in diameter in groups of three or four. Some blossoms sparkle like glitter. Exquisite.

My heart overflows with praise as I care for these plants. I’m reminded of Romans 1:20. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”

What an incredible display of God’s creativity and power graces my home. I think God is beautiful beyond our imagination. Orchids give me a taste of heaven, and I feel his presence as they dazzle me with beauty.

Make a point to look around at God’s handiwork and praise him. Better yet, stay close to him and reflect his majesty.

Cynthia L Simmons and her husband reside in Atlanta. A Bible teacher and former homeschool mother, she writes a column for Leading Hearts Magazine. She served as past president of Christian Authors Guild, directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference, and hosts Heart of the Matter Radio. Her author website is www.clsimmons.com.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutube

Bet you giggle… and maybe relate!

Thanks to CAN author, Winnie Griggs, for sharing this Friday Frolic…   

 http://www.winniegriggs.com/

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutube

My Chaos Theory  Sydney Avey

Chaos is an element of most transitions. My husband and I live two lives.  Half the year we shelter under the California Gold Country oak and pine trees in the shadow of Yosemite’s granite cliffs.  The other half a year we settle into Arizona’s Valley of the Sun, nestled up against the White Tank Mountains. In California, I sing on a praise team in a small community church. In Arizona, I sing with a fifty-voice choir in a large Presbyterian church. The Phoenix area offers resources we don’t have in Groveland—recreation centers, accessible shopping, theaters, medical centers, a university, and an airport. Groveland offers rural peace and a close community.

As we pack to leave, I am re-launching my first novel, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter, and readying the house for six very welcome houseguests (family) who will visit until departure day. When stress over deadlines mounts, I remind myself that I chose a life that supports my work, not work to support my life. A bit of chaos is good for creativity.

The contrary nature of chaos

Recently I asked some friends to pray for me. Their prayers changed my approach to dealing with stress.The very act of requesting prayer helped me articulate the real need, and the answers I received were refreshingly counterintuitive. Contrary to popular wisdom, striving isn’t always the answer. Here is what I learned:

  1. Cease your striving.I reset my internal clock, which runs fast, to be more in tune with God’s timing. Facing anxiety over being in the public eye, my prayer is “Lord, make me dwell in safety.” NIV Ps. 4:8b (Courtesy of a prayer partner.)
  2. Bigger effort doesn’t always yield better results. A prayer partner reminded me of the fishermen who struggled with more than they could handle. They asked their partners in other ships to come help and both ships benefitted. Power is available to us when we do it God’s way.
  3. Learn to wait. Creativity consultant Dan Blank cautions artists to spend the majority of their time improving their craft and helping people connect with the soul of their work. Trying to master every promotion strategy is time misspent. Amen!
  4. Stop pushing and let some things go. It is easy to say it is all in God’s hands. His timing is perfect. It is harder to see a publication date slip and not want to do something about it. If my identity is truly in Christ, I need to trust that it is Christ who is in the details, not the devil. If I identify first as being in Christ then I shouldn’t stress over my identity as a writer. That takes a lot of pressure off!
  5. Count God faithful.I had a moment when I was solving one tough technical problem after another and God said, “See? You couldn’t have done this four years ago.” He brought to my mind his faithfulness. As we push through chaos, it is good to acknowledge how far we’ve come, and count God faithful.

Sydney Avey write historical fiction novels about dynamic women in changing times. In each of her books, small graces foster hope and and give people courage to step over uncertainty and continue the journey. She is the author of The Sheep Walker’s Daughter, The Lyre and the Lambs, and. coming in February 2018, The Trials of Nellie Belle.

Sheep Walker’s Daughter

When Dee Moraga’s secretive mother dies in the 1950s, Dee gives up hope of ever learning her father’s identity. But a series of puzzling discoveries causes her to reconsider. Why did her mother send money every month to the Basque Relief Agency? And what does the Anglican priest who shows up at her door know about her cultural heritage that he isn’t telling? A tribute to the resilience of immigrant families, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter pairs one fractured family’s history of loss, survival, and tough choices with one lonely woman’s search for reconnection.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutube

By Janet Chester Bly

A wounded friend of mine wept. “I prayed very hard my husband wouldn’t leave. Every day and night I prayed. But he left anyway.”

What kills hope?

Fear or rage will. Guilt and doubt try to. Sin does. Prayer answers of “No” and death of a dream can.

Hopelessness has the ability to make us mentally intoxicated—without reason, moderation, or judgment. Our wits become all spur and no rein. We lose confidence that good things will ever happen again when we hit rock-hard bottom.

The traumas of this world soil innocence and blind our view of a loving God. We become like injured, brute beasts who strike out at or flee from the one who comes to rescue. But God told us He wants to save us. He has our best interests at heart.

“But what if mine’s broken?” my friend asked.

We can’t thrive without hope.

George Bernard Shaw told us, “The life of the human race is a brief discreditable episode in the history of the meanest of planets.”

But Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Jean-Paul Sartre stated, “Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance.”

But Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

Sir James Jeans declared, “Life may be a disease which attacks planets in their decay.”

But Jesus said, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst … [It] will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

Which voice do you choose to believe?

My friend chose to trust in Jesus…despite evil lurking around her and terror that struck at night. Temporary menacing shadows conspire to hide God’s gracious design for her life. But she holds onto blessed hope in Him.

Can’t wait for the unfolding of the rest of her story.

ALT="Janet Chester Bly"Janet Chester Bly authored and co-authored 40 fiction and nonfiction books for adults and kids with her late husband, Christy Award winning western author Stephen Bly. www.BlyBooks.com.  “Voices in the Night” is excerpt from Hope Lives Here: https://www.blybooks.com/books/true-life-stories/. She’s working on another devotional, Grace Spilling Over/True Stories of God’s Tender Mercies, and a novel, Beneath a Camperdown Elm, Book 3, Trails of Reba Cahill Series. Both books available summer 2018.

 

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutube

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutube